Libya deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim at a press briefing in Tripoli
As NATO airstrikes hit the Libyan government's communication centres the country's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said that France and the UK are 'violating' the UN mandate. “If NATO really cared about civilians, they have to stop siding with the rebels,” he said.
He went on to tell journalists, that the Anglo-French decision to send a team of military advisers to Libyan opposition forces in Benghazi is a "clear violation" of the UN security council remit and will prolong the crisis engulfing the country.
Khaled Kaim said Britain's attempt to help the opposition forces would be futile. "This is not in the interest of the UK," Kaim told news agency on Tuesday.
"This is an impossible mission. To organise who? They (the rebels) are different groups. There is no leader. They are not well-organised, and I am sure it will be a failure," Kaim said.
Abdulati al-Obeidi, the Libyan foreign minister on his part said that Britian's decision to send experts to help the rebels is, “A step to prolong the confrontation, there is no doubt about that. Sending military personnel will encourage the other side to be more defiant."
Describing the overseas military presence as "a step backwards”, he went on to say that deploying British military advisors to help rebel fighters in Libya will harm chances of a peace deal. He also proposed a ceasefire to allow civilians in the war-torn North African nation to discuss what they wanted.
He went on to say that such a ceasefire would be followed by an interim period of maybe six months to prepare for an election which would be supervised by the UN, as proposed by the African Union roadmap.
"We think any military presence is a step backwards and we are sure that if this bombing stopped and there is a real ceasefire we could have a dialogue among all Libyans about what they want - democracy, political reform, constitution, election. This could not be done with what is going on now," said Mr Obeidi.
He said the election would cover "whatever issue is raised by Libyans", and that anything could be on the table, including, he implied, the future of Col Al Qathafi as leader.
Countries he had visited had been supportive about a suggested ceasefire and helping the humanitarian effort, Mr Obeidi added, but pointed to the UK, France and Italy as being unhelpful.
Al-Obeidi's deputy, Khaled Kaim, went on to accuse the alliance and the international coalition of overstepping the security council resolution authorising military action to protect civilians, saying they were "siding with the rebels. Everything they have been doing since the start is outside the mandate."
He added: "No one can legitimise such actions. They will get nothing in return apart from more casualties. I think this is a big trap for Britain and France. They are dealing with the wrong groups. I can't understand why Britain and France are so keen to get themselves into trouble."
Mr Kaim said that the two western countries would find themselves allied with al-Qaida forces, which the Libyan government claims are embedded with the rebels.
Meanwhile, as fighting continued in Misurata and efforts intensified to bring in humanitarian aid and evacuate those trapped in the besieged city. The Libyan government denied any bombardment by its forces.
According to the Libyan government, Mr Kaim told the Guardian newpaper, the Anglo-French move followed NATO air strikes, which destroyed three telecommunications installations around the city of Sirte on Monday. NATO confirmed that communications infrastructure had been targeted and so, too, the headquarters of a Libyan army brigade.
Kaim said: "The aim is clear: to enable the rebels to advance and to cut communications between (government) troops."
The air strikes on communications centres came "at the same time as the British government sends very sophisticated telecommunications equipment to the rebels to enable them to organise themselves", Kaim told an earlier press conference in Tripoli.
He went on to say: "If NATO really cared about civilians, they have to stop the air strikes and stop siding with the rebels. Their aim is to push the country into a civil war. That's clear from day one."
He warned against any deployment of ground troops to protect humanitarian missions, as considered by the EU. "If there is any deployment of any armed personnel on Libyan ground, there will be fighting.
“The Libyan government will not take it as a humanitarian mission, it will be taken as a military mission," he said. "The Libyan people will not stay silent. They will join the armed forces and fight."
Mr Kaim said the Libyan government was doing its utmost "to help people and to supply them with food". He declined to answer questions about whether Libya would agree to a pause in military action to allow humanitarian aid to reach the besieged city of Misurata, the newspaper said.
"There is no need for such things. There is no bombardment from the armed forces on Misurata, none at all. There are pockets of resistance, but other areas are peaceful. There is no fighting in Misurata," he said, contradicting claims and accounts from inside the city and a NATO statement that pro-government forces were shelling Misurata “indiscriminately”.
The Libyan opposition claimed that 10,000 people had been killed since the start of the uprising, and more than 50,000 injured, while opposition forces in Misurata say 1,000 people have been killed since the siege began in late February, and more than 300 have been confirmed dead by the city's hospitals.
"This is all shit," Mr Kaim said, claiming that the international coalition was exaggerating the number of casualties in Misurata.
The UN's World Food Programme said on Tuesday it had sent a convoy of eight trucks loaded with wheat flour and high-energy biscuits into government-controlled western Libya to reach areas affected by fighting. The first convoy was loaded with food to feed nearly 50,000 people for 30 days.